North Korea has tried to prevent leaks to the outside world about its public executions in recent years, suggesting Pyongyang may respond to international review of its human rights record, a research group has said. based in Seoul.
The Transitional Justice Working Group analyzed satellite images and collected testimonies from 23 public executions during the time of Kim Jong Un, who seized power ten years ago after his father’s death in December 2011.
North Korean escapees said executions took place at closely watched sites, with authorities keeping a close eye to ensure no information was disclosed, the TJWG said in a report released Wednesday.
“In recent years, North Korea appears to be strategically choosing locations far from the border area to carry out these killings,” said the NGO, which has a non-partisan mission to document human rights violations and seek justice for them. victims.
“The surveillance and control of the public gathered during these events is stepping up to prevent information on public executions from leaking outside the country. “
“Our results suggest that the Kim (Jong Un) regime is paying more attention to human rights issues in response to increased international scrutiny.”
Escape accounts are nearly impossible to independently verify due to North Korea’s tight control over access to its people and their records.
Ahyeong Park, the report’s lead author, said the organization carefully assessed the consistency of the accounts, choosing only those it deemed most reliable.
Pyongyang has long been accused of using state assassinations to instill fear among its people, and leader Kim has executed high-ranking collaborators in the past, including his powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek in 2013.
North Korea says it respects human rights and has dismissed allegations of violations as lies told by defectors.
Seven of the public executions were for watching or distributing South Korean videos, which are banned by Pyongyang, according to the TJWG report.
TJWG said that North Korea’s near total closure of its borders during the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly reduced information coming from the country, making it difficult to document rights violations during this period.
Human Rights Watch echoed this concern Thursday, accusing Kim of “isolating the country more than ever” through “unnecessary and extreme measures.”
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